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Nation's largest gathering of conservation leaders returns live and in-person in New Orleans, focused on inclusivity, climate justice and resilience

·11 min read

This week, the Land Trust Alliance is hosting the nation's largest gathering of land conservation leaders in New Orleans, Louisiana, following two years of hosting the annual event virtually. 2022 marks the 40th anniversary of the Land Trust Alliance and the 35th anniversary of Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference.

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 15, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- This week, the Land Trust Alliance is hosting the nation's largest gathering of land conservation leaders in New Orleans, Louisiana, following two years of hosting the annual event virtually. 2022 marks the 40th anniversary of the Land Trust Alliance and the 35th anniversary of Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference.

More than 1,500 people from throughout the United States and beyond will attend Rally 2022, which begins Sept. 15 and concludes Sept. 17. Attendees will hear from multiple keynote speakers of national renown, including Colette Pichon Battle, a generational native of Bayou Liberty, Louisiana, and founder of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy (now Taproot Earth). Colette has tirelessly worked to raise awareness on equitable disaster recovery, migration, economic development, climate justice and energy democracy. She was also named a 2019 Obama Fellow for organizing Black and Native climate justice and collaboration in the Gulf South.

Attendees will also hear from a group of panelists who bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to the issue of inclusivity in land conservation. Those panelists include Mavis Gragg, co-founder of HeirShares and Director of Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention at the American Forest Foundation; Gabe Sheoships, executive director of Friends of Tryon Creek and the lead facilitator of the Oregon Land Justice Project and chair of Nesika Wilamut; and Raul "Rocci" Aguirre, deputy executive director of the Adirondack Council, regional commissioner of New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation (Saratoga-Capital District) and co-founder of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative.

The Alliance will also honor outstanding leaders in the field of conservation, including Ebonie Alexander, executive director of the Black Family Land Trust and the first person of color to serve on the board of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Alexander will receive the Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award.

And the Alliance has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service on our 2022 Scholars for Conservation Leadership program — a career-and-leadership-development program aimed at expanding opportunities for student leaders majoring in environmental studies to pursue careers in natural resource management and conservation. The program was initiated in 2019 to provide undergraduate students from communities historically underrepresented in land conservation an opportunity to participate in a professional development experience here at Rally.

Land Trust Alliance is also proud to be partnering on Rally with local organizations like Land Trust for Louisiana, which soon will hold the conservation easement on Live Oak Farm, a rice farm operating in Vermilion Parish. Operated by the same family for more than 100 years, Live Oak Farm is one of Louisiana's largest rice farms and the site of the state's first Agricultural Land Easement (ALE). This special place is being managed by a new generation of family members who are cultivating an integrated, symbiotic system with rice production, enhancement of wildlife habitat and responsible protection of the watershed. The ALE easement will help safeguard agricultural production and bird habitat as Louisiana's coastal marshes disappear. It highlights the important role that conservation can play in building resiliency across our vulnerable coastal ecosystems.

Featuring 85 workshops, 11 seminars, two plenary sessions and seven field trips focused on climate mitigation and resilience in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, Rally is the nation's largest annual gathering of land conservation professionals. Attendees will connect with their peers, advance their skills and work to solve some of their greatest professional challenges. More information about Rally is available at http://www.alliancerally.org.

For additional information on Rally events, field trip coordinators and potential interviews with speakers, etc., contact the Land Trust Alliance's media relations manager, Corey Himrod, at 571-359-5357 or chimrod@lta.org.

2022 Scholars for Conservation Leadership Bios
Aimee Alvarenga is a senior at the University of California-Los Angeles majoring in anthropology and geography/environmental studies. A first-generation Latina from Los Angeles, Aimee is passionate about environmental justice and ecological restoration. She is a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar and aims to pursue a graduate degree and work in restoration and land stewardship.

Gab DeVito is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying natural resources conservation with a concentration in wildlife ecology. Originally from Long Island, New York, they love spending time in natural environments and learning about Indigenous approaches to land management, agriculture, and use of wild foods. They hope to pursue a graduate degree in mycology or forest pathology.

Yaseen Ginnab is a senior at Middle Tennessee State University majoring in biology and psychology. Yaseen has assisted in three research projects at MTSU and conducted two independent projects in internships, one NSF-REU and one Fulbright Canada-MITACS Globalink program. This semester, he is beginning an honors undergraduate thesis and has diverse research experience involving pollinator behavior, methylmercury contamination, microbial responses to crude oil and polypore fruiting patterns. The commonality between these projects is conservation and biodiversity. His top choices for graduate school are a Fulbright program at the University of Helsinki in Finland and the Rhodes program at Oxford.

Hannah Hackett is a North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University senior majoring in sustainable land and food systems from Raleigh, NC. Hannah is a current member of the University Honors Program, Phi Kappa Phi National Honors Society and the Minorites in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Organization. As a USDA/1890 National Scholars Program scholar, Hannah is interested in becoming a soil conservationist after graduation and help farmers and ranchers care for their land more efficiently while increasing awareness of conservation and sustainability practices.

Kyndal McClain is a student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University studying agricultural and environmental systems with a concentration in environmental studies as a part of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science USDA/1890 National Scholars Program. Outside of studies, Kyndal has a passion for small-scale, sustainable agriculture.

Ariel Mial is a senior at North Carolina Central University. Her major is environmental and geographic sciences. Her plan after college is to attend graduate school to earn a master's degree in Environmental Management. She is currently a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Climate Reality Corporation and 11:11 Durham Community Service Organization. This school year, Ariel is the first Miss 11:11, which gives her the opportunity to host her own community service events related to helping solve environmental problems. She is also currently interning with the North Carolina Conservation Network as a campus fellow.

Taylor Mohead is a student attending the Tuskegee University. Originally from Houston, Texas, Taylor loves the outdoors and all the adventures and experiences that comes with it. Taylor may be a homebody but when it comes to wildlife and forestry, he is willing and able for anything and everything.

Sheila Saucedo is an ecology and evolutionary biology major at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is currently working in the landscape ecology lab at UTEP, where she is working on a research project to assess the capability of iPad LiDAR to scan cacti allometry. Her interests are in landscape ecology and conservation.

Zipporah Sowell is a senior at Tuskegee University originally from Charlotte, NC, studying plant and soil science. In addition to being an agriculture student, she serves as the 2022-2023 Tuskegee University Miss Senior, a REACH academic peer tutor, and is a proud member of the George Washington Carver MANRRS chapter. Last summer through her internship with the USDA, she focused on cover crop management and the benefits it can provide to the environment and animal nutrition. She is looking forward to graduating from Tuskegee University in May of 2023 and is in pursuit of becoming an ethnobotanist after graduation.

Field Trips Descriptions

Field Trip 1: Partnerships and Pedals: Exploring Lake Pontchartrain Mitigation Partnerships
Hosted by Land Trust for Louisiana and The Nature Conservancy

This trip will visit the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve, a pristine longleaf pine savanna protected through a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and Land Trust for Louisiana (LTL). Explore this ecologically diverse habitat with carnivorous plants while learning about restoration management and conservation achievements through wetland mitigation. Enjoy lunch in the heart of Northshore longleaf pine conservation, followed by a 5-mile bike ride along the scenic Rails to Trails "Tammany Trace" to an LTL mitigation partnership with St. Tammany Parish adjacent to the Pelican Park Recreation Area and Fontainebleau State Park.

Field Trip 2: Sowing the Seeds of Wetlands Restoration
Hosted by Pontchartrain Conservancy

In 1895, over 95% of the land of what is now known as the city of New Orleans was above sea level. In the years that followed, a combination of geology and engineering decisions have sunk 50% of New Orleans below sea level. We'll visit the historic New Canal Lighthouse and talk about how this came to be over coffee and bagels. So as not to not to be left with that "sinking" feeling we will travel to our Cypress Nursery and to the Bucktown Marsh to talk with wetland ecologists and coastal scientists about successful efforts using urban public lands to help combat the city's subsidence by building back wetland areas to protect our shores.

Field Trip 3: Urban Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management Tour
Hosted by Groundwork New Orleans

This tour will visit a wide selection of Green Infrastructure sites across New Orleans that were constructed and maintained by Groundwork New Orleans. The nine tour sites include Groundwork New Orleans Earth Lab, Mirabeau Water Garden and Touro Street Environmental Justice Initiative. You will learn about multiple land usage strategies centered around Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management and enjoy lunch on the Lafitte Greenway.

Field Trip 4: Mississippi Ecosystem Tour
Hosted by Land Trust for Mississippi Coastal Plain

Join us in Mississippi to learn about the former Logtown and The Point communities (once the site of the largest mill in the south). Then, take a 3-mile hike through native ecosystems to the Infinity Visitor Center at Stennis Space Center, where you'll explore their exhibits, including impressive native biome gardens. Finally, head over to the Lazy Magnolia for local beer and pizza and learn about Hancock County Port & Harbor's mitigation/conservation easement project.

Field Trip 5: Multiple Lines of Defense: The Great Wall of New Orleans
Hosted by National Wildlife Federation

On this trip, we'll explore the eastern edges of New Orleans and neighboring St. Bernard Parish to understand the intersection of land loss, restoration and structural flood protection. We will start our day with a visit to a ghost swamp to illustrate the land loss crisis and the impact it has on coastal communities. Following that, we will tour Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana's Oyster Shell Recycling site to understand this innovative and successful restoration program. Finally, hop on an oyster boat to see the great wall of Louisiana, and enjoy Vietnamese po-boys from the famous Dong Phoung bakery.

Field Trip 6: Lagniappe Tour
Hosted by Hosted by Woodlands Conservancy

Woodlands Conservancy owns 840-acres of forested wetlands approximately 8 eight miles from downtown New Orleans. Learn how this small nonprofit used data from bird and vegetation surveys to gain awareness and support for saving this vital habitat from development. We will do a 4-mile round trip hike to a forest restoration site on our way to a grouping of ten WWII Ammunition Magazines nestled in the forest The hike will be followed by a New Orleans style po-boy lunch before heading back downtown to and a visit to a local brewery.

Field Trip 7: New Orleans and the History of Water, Resilience and Environmental Justice
Hosted by Hosted by The Water Collaborative

New Orleans is the "canary in the coal mine" of climate change and innovation in climate adaptation. It is a city of diverse cultures, birthplace of jazz and roots that run deep into Africa. We will discuss the intersectionality that exists in a city beloved around the world. The four major topics covered in the tour are environment and ecosystems, post-disaster recovery and lessons learned, intersectionality of culture and politics, and water and climate adaptations.

About the Land Trust Alliance
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents approximately 950 member land trusts supported by more than 250,000 volunteers and 6.3 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at http://www.landtrustalliance.org.

Media Contact

Corey Himrod, Land Trust Alliance, 571-359-5357, chimrod@lta.org

SOURCE Land Trust Alliance